Devolution for Merseyside? But on whose terms? – Beware Labour Leaders & Tory Government will want to impose a package

The BBC has the story – see link above

Council leaders have agreed to submit a bid for a devolution deal that could pave the way for an elected mayor in the Liverpool City Region.

‘We need to come up with a really ambitious package’

So what’s going to be in the devolution package? Who is going to be consulted about it? Will Joe and Jane Soap here on Merseyside get any chance to have a say on the package before it is sent off to the Tory Government?

All we know is that the 6 Labour Council Leaders across Merseyside want a package and that they want it to be ambitious but based on their now legendary inability to get on with each other what hope can we have?

Devolution of powers? YES, as a Liberal it is what I have fought for all my political life and in times when neither Tories nor Red Tories (Labour) believed in it at all.

A Metro Mayor? NO – I don’t want the communities of Merseyside to run from Liverpool Town Hall by Joe Anderson or anyone else for that matter.

Here are Lib Dem Cllr. Richard Kemp’s views via the Liverpool Echo:-

Jo Anderson – Mayor of Liverpool – Do you think Joe could be part of the problem rather than a part of the solution?

As a watcher of politics and indeed a participant in it I do worry about the leadership of Liverpool. Joe Anderson comes over to me as someone so tribal that he can’t surely be the person to take Liverpool forward.

I saw this the other day on Moorfields in Liverpool:-


Click on the photo to enlarge it

And I thought the present elected Mayor of Liverpool is, in my view, a part of Liverpool’s problem and is unlikely to be a part of the solution to it.

Elected Mayors – Centralising power in one persons hands is bad but if it is being forced on Merseyside the crunch will be finding/electing someone of a stature respected by many

I have long opposed an elected Metro Mayor/City Regional Mayor/Merseyside Mayor call it what you will and without going over too much ground this is why:-

* Merseyside is too small to be a successful competitive City Region with areas such as Ellesmere Port and West Lancashire being excluded from it.
* A Borough like Sefton which has a majority border with Lancashire could end up being even more disconnected with its neighbouring communities. I am thinking of Southport, Lydiate and Formby here especially.
* What’s so cleaver about centralising power in one person’s hands? Surely this is an illiberal idea that goes against the long held view in the UK about how local governance should be set up. Indeed, it is an American idea imported to the UK.
* Electing a candidate whom people can genuinely respect would be crucial if the idea is taken forward on Merseyside against all my other significant reservations/objections above. A Party hack from one particular political tribe who wants to lord it over Merseyside will be no good for anyone.

But despite my reservations is it going to happen? Well it seems it may well just do so if you take on board what is said in the Liverpool Echo article – see link above.

Of course Liverpool already has an elected City Mayor but the role was in reality imposed on the City without a referendum by Labour-run Liverpool City Council. On that basis clearly he electoral legitimacy test of whether the City wanted a elected mayor at all was dodged. The only say Liverpool folk got was who was going to get the job.

What’s more quite a few cities/communities that have held referendums on whether they wanted an elected mayor have said no they don’t. Where elected mayors have been successful will have been where, probably more by chance than anything else, a person of widely respected stature has been elected. In other words it is a game of chance; get a good elected mayor and it may possibly work out get a bad one and it could be an utter nightmare. Such is the result when power is not shared by a group of elected people.

I still think it is a bad way forward and will be campaigning against this Americanisation of UK local government.

Osborne/Anderson – is this some form of political love in?

From the Liverpool Echo web site – Mr Osborne also declared his “door was open” to Joe Anderson over proposals for a Merseyside Mayor, providing it is the wish of voters in the area.


Well here’s a odd story. A Tory Chancellor seemingly trying to do Liverpool’s Labour Mayor a favour in his ambitions to run all our lives across Merseyside/The Liverpool City Region.

But is it odd? Well not if you look back at the history of the Tories backing Labour on Merseytravel/Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority. Or what about the short lived Tory/Labour joint administration on Sefton Council in 2008.

These old and supposedly very opposed political enemies are closer than most voters would realise or care for. No one other then the Labour Party will thank George Osborne for giving Joe the power to run Southport, St Helens, Runcorn, Formby, Birkenhead, Maghull, Prescot or anywhere else outside of his present Liverpool boundaries.

No Mr. Osborne we don’t wish for this scenario thank you very much!

Who would have an elected Mayor? The Liverpool experience has not been a good one


The link above takes you to a Liverpool Echo article which is worth a read. Readers of this site will know how utterly opposed I am to the communities of Sefton being run from Liverpool Town Hall by a Metro Mayor.

And let’s be honest it’s no surprise that Merseyside’s Labour leaders are kicking lumps out of each other yet again in public:-

Liverpool City Region – Sefton Labour don’t want communities to have a vote before a Metro Mayor is imposed on Merseyside

One thing that had slipped my mind as Labour Council Leaders across Merseyside have been kicking lumps out of each other about whether our area will be bossed around by a Liverpool centric Metro Mayor is that there has actually been a vote on Sefton Council on this very matter.

It happened at a meeting I missed on 20th November but the result is quite illuminating. This is the what was being debated:-

It was moved by Councillor Brodie – Browne, seconded by Councillor Dawson:

“This Council believes that there should be no elected Mayors imposed upon communities such as the Borough of Sefton without the clear consent for such a constitutional change being agreed by the votes of the communities concerned.

The Council is concerned to avoid a piecemeal approach being adopted to the subject of devolution of government power to the North West Region and calls for the early establishment of a North West Constitutional Convention.”